I'd seen the chapel at the United States Air Force Academy from the road; I wanted to see it up close too.
This afternoon we headed to the entrance to the base that was open to the public, driving to the location of the chapel, then walking across the open areas. It's an impressive and fascinating structure. According to the Cadet Chapel page on the U.S. Air Force Academy web page the construction was started in 1959 and completed in 1963 at a cost of $3.5 million dollars.
Wednesday, September 02, 2015
I'd seen the chapel at the United States Air Force Academy from the road; I wanted to see it up close too.
Yesterday was a very long driving day. Overall we ended the day to the south and west of where we started, after following lots of different roads. We did a lot of turning, heading south for a while, then west, then south again. At the end of the day we ended in Colorado Springs, our home for the next few days.
We had a pretty quiet day today, going for some relatively short walks. Our first walking spot was in Garden of the Gods. It looked different today; when we first visited here last November there was snow on the ground.
Late in the afternoon we headed out again, this time following some trails in the land behind the house. We bounced on the trails for about an hour. The grass is pretty tall so I needed to ride in Denise's camera bag for a bit to be able to see. Then we found another trail that was a bit clearer so I could bounce on my own.
Monday, August 31, 2015
Today was a two weather day. The morning was gray and then wet, the afternoon sky was a treat in blue.
We started the morning by heading up the Notch Trail. Denise wasn't sure it was her kind of trail and as it turns out it wasn't. You know she doesn't like steep trails, don't you? Well, the Notch trail has a very steep section where there are logs tied together with chains. It kind of looked like a very funky ladder but Denise said it didn't feel like one. She started up it then thought better and turned back. Barb & Harvey continued up the trail while Denise, Blue, and I turned around. We did a bit of playing near the trailhead, then headed down the road to play with the camera. We had a really nice walk until it started raining. That's when Blue & I popped back in the camera bag, Denise popped the rain cover onto the bag and grabbed her raincoat too. The temperature was much cooler than yesterday, in the high 60s during the rain. I was glad to have a dry place to ride!
We were going to head out on the Castle Trail next but we decided to drive down the road instead. It seemed like the trail would be slippery when it was wet.
For once the forecast was exactly right. I checked it on Denise's phone when it was still raining. The forecast called for occasional rain until noon. And that's exactly when it stopped. After that the sky cleared and we were treated with blue, decorated by some white clouds. I think it's awesome that the weather wizard gifted us with pretty weather for our last afternoon in the park.
It was the middle of the afternoon when we returned to the eastern end of the Castle Trail to start walking. It was dry, and the air was much cooler than yesterday. I think it was just 80 degrees, quite comfortable for bouncing down the trail.
Tomorrow is going to be a long driving day. We'll be heading to Colorado Springs, driving south, touching 3 states as we travel.
I just had to find out what kind of rocks form the badlands so I asked Denise to check with the rangers in the park. Denise thought there was clay in the rocks; that was a pretty good guess. They are formed from clay, mud, and silt that is cemented together. The ranger said that is has a finer grain than sandstone but I guess it's kind of in the same rock family. Hmm... I didn't know that rocks have families!
It rained for a while this morning. After the rain the ground was very slippery. I guess that's from the clay content. Blue & I stayed nice and dry in Denise's camera bag while Denise slipped in the mud and almost ended up on the ground. That would have been really messy, it's a very good thing she was able to remain standing.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
I thought we might be driving a bit this morning before hiking; Denise told me yesterday that we might visit a park on the edge of the Black Hills today. I thought we should stay near and in Badlands. I told her that last night and she listened to me. I think that's a good thing.
We started our wanders this morning with a drive to Scenic, South Dakota. (I still think the town names here sound like descriptions instead of names. What do you think?) It looked like there were a couple of houses where people live, and there was a small post office too. Most of it was a ghost town, with lots of abandoned buildings. Denise played with her camera there for a while, and then we headed back to Interior and drove back into Badlands National Park.
Yesterday we walked part of the Castle Trail starting in the east. Today we again bounced down part of the trail, this time starting at the western end. The two ends of the trail are very different. The eastern side goes through badlands formations while the western side has more grasslands. As we walked more formations started to appear. The two ends of the trail are very different; I liked both of them!
After our rather hot walk we continued along the loop road, stopping when the mood hit to walk and to play with the camera.
This afternoon the car thermometer said that it was 104 degrees (Fahrenheit). That's really really hot! Luckily it was quite windy. I think that helped us feel a bit cooler than we would have felt without the wind. The wind also managed to blow the haze from the forest fires away for the day. I hope that the strong winds we have right now are a sign that tomorrow will allow blue skies to show again.
I was surprised when we turned off at one of the small hotels in Interior before we got back to the Circle View Ranch this afternoon. Denise's friends Barb & Harvey just arrived here today and Denise saw Barb standing there. So we stopped by to say hello. We're all going to be wandering in the park together tomorrow. I think it will be fun to share this beautiful place with our friends.
Yesterday was a day filled with walking and driving, a day that left me ready for relatively early sleep. I slept for a bit, then found myself in a state of wakefulness.
There was a loud noise, a banging sound repeating over and over and over again. After the thought that the house was going to fall down passed I decided to get up and see what was causing the noise. As I opened the door to my room I saw my neighbors across the hall opening theirs too. It turned out that a shutter for the window in the room had unlatched from the wall. With the very strong wind it was flapping, hitting the building and then the window. Luckily my neighbor had a wire hanger that he was able to use to fasten the noisy shutter to the wall. We pulled a chair up against it too, giving all of us a quiet night.
A real repair was completed today; that means we should have a quieter night.
Saturday, August 29, 2015
We spent the entire day today wandering in Badlands. The morning was our walking time and the afternoon was a combination of driving with a bit of walking.
Our morning started with a wonderful breakfast. We're staying at the Circle View Ranch in Interior, South Dakota. I still think that's a very odd name for a town! Our breakfast entrée was eggs covered with a tasty sauce. There were also cinnamon rolls, muffins, granola, and fresh fruit. It was very yummy, and it gave us enough energy to do a lot of wandering.
The trails in the park seem to be either really short or quite long. We started with a couple of short trails, then headed out on the Castle Trail. That trail was a long one; we walked out for a while, then turned back. I liked that trail - maybe I can convince Denise to head back out on the trail again before we leave here.
After our morning walks we turned to the west and drove Badlands Loop Road. We stopped at viewpoints and at occasional wide spots in the road. We walked down little trails and down non-trails too.
The air was quite hazy today. If I looked straight up at the sky then I could see blue but the horizon showed as gray. Denise told me that she heard the haze is coming from the big fires in Washington. I wonder what it will be like tomorrow.
Luckily the only rattlesnakes we have seen so far are pictures on signs.
Denise saw a little snake slithering along on one of the trails we were on today, no big snakes, and no rattlers. I suppose it's good to have warning signs. I don't mind being warned, I just don't want to meet a big snake.
Friday, August 28, 2015
Today was a three-state day! I'm really glad that Denise requested GPS in the rental car; it would have been hard for me to navigate using maps. We started on big roads near Denver but as we moved further away the roads were quite narrow. The speed limit was fast though.
I could see the mountains in the distance as we were leaving Denver. As we headed to the east we moved to the flatter part of the state, then we turned to the north and crossed into Nebraska. We passed through farmland wearing corn and hay, through fields filled with cattle and horses. The land was pretty flat until we got close to South Dakota. That's when it started to look more interesting with folded hills, lots of green, and more trees. It seemed when we were in Nebraska that we would see single trees; there are more trees here.
As we got closer to Interior we started seeing rock outcroppings. We'll see more when we go into the park in the morning.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
We're finally high in the air after a bit of an adventure on the ground. We were headed to a takeoff point when I looked to the front of the plane and noticed that the cockpit door was open. Uh oh! I tried to distract Denise but she noticed too. We both wondered what was wrong...
After a bit the pilot walked back to the front of the plane and said there was a panel that needed fixing. He and one of the flight attendants tried to fix whatever it was. That didn't work so we went back to the gate so a real mechanic could fix it. That created a bit of a delay. We're flying now; the Fly-Fi service shows a projected arrival time in Denver of 11:25 PM. That means we'll be landing about an hour late. Now it's really important that I convince Denise to take a nap!
Colorado is on Mountain Time, two hours earlier than home. I had to check the time in Nebraska and South Dakota. Both of those states are in two time zones, part Mountain, and part Central. It looks like Badlands is in the Mountain time zone; that means we'll won't need to change time more than once. I guess we won't need to change it at all though; Denise is wearing her Microsoft Band and that syncs with the time on her cell phone. The cell phone changes based on the cell towers where we are. So I guess her watch should change by itself when Denise turns airplane mode off on her phone. We'll find out if that really works in a couple of hours!
Tomorrow is going to be a driving day, from Denver to Interior, South Dakota. I thing that's an odd name for a town, don't you? I suppose it's descriptive, but it sounds like a regular word to me instead of a name.
In case you're curious, I'm posting this from 31,970 feet above central New York, and we're flying at a ground speed of 476 miles per hour. No wonder flying gets us places faster than driving!